The ideal of aging in place
We all love helping people remain in their homes long-term and having them age in place. Ideally, a person never leaves their home during their lifetime. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a great concept to strive to achieve.
As far back as we can research, people have been living in their chosen homes for their entire lives. Occasionally medical circumstances have intervened and required relocation to a facility better equipped to care for them. Nevertheless, we have so many home health services and techniques available today to keep people at home.
We do not need to feel that aging in place is timebound – that a person can only enjoy this concept for a certain number of years or until their health dramatically changes. We can help them deal with a variety of issues and conditions while they remain in their homes.
Aging in place solutions are individual
While many people would love to find an aging in place retail store or center where they could shop for a room to install in their home or for an entire array of design features, it’s not done this way. True, there are many websites and businesses that list products that can be used to help people remain in their homes easier and safer – vision and mobility aids, for instance.
Nevertheless, each person is different. Even within the same household of two or more people, their needs could be quite different. This is one reason that striving for a universal design approach will help to appeal to a broader audience and minimize some of the more specific changes that might be required.
The important thing to remember is that there are general techniques and applications that serve many people well but that we should not try to find a perfect, ready-made solution online or in some store that anyone could purchase and install exactly as they see it. This is just not how we create aging in place solutions. If it were truly that simple, there wouldn’t be any need for us to help people.
“The usual list of suspects”
A common expression on television police dramas is beginning with “the usual list of suspects” which they frequently offer in response to a crime that has been committed. This means that they start their crime solution process with the easiest, most obvious information they have and go from there. It’s possible that people who are known to have committed such crimes in the past would be guilty of this new act. Maybe not, but it’s a starting point.
For us in the aging in place solutions realm, installing grab bars in the bathroom around the toilet seems like a good idea, but how long should or do they need to be, how high from the floor, and how many? What finishes should we use? Of course, the size of the client’s bathroom and their personal size are going to be contributing factors in what we ultimately select for them.
Similarly, lever door handles is a great idea, but does the client have a say in what we choose, or do we just install our favorite style and finish?
Such features, along with other common ones, come to mind as we are discussing helping someone to remain in their home long-term, but there may be other more urgent solutions that demand a response from us.
Sure, the usual suspects – the features that we will recommend in most cases – is a great place to begin, but remember that aging in place solutions are individual. They may vary dramatically from client-to-client.
Remembering to keep it simple
Aging in place solutions just need to meet the needs of the client. We should be careful not to overdesign, overspend, or over recommend solutions for the client. Let’s meet their immediate needs first. If we some other areas that we would like to address, we can discuss those with the client. However, we don’t want to overload the client with a large expenditure and a home full of devices if that really is not what they need immediately..
There’s no telling how their needs might change in the next few years, and we can’t always anticipate what will be helpful for them to have at that future time.
Universal design solutions go a long way toward addressing present and future anticipated needs, but the main thing is to be specific to what the client requires now.